Dare County Regional Airport Museum

410 Airport Road
Manteo, NC 27954
Phone: 252-475-5570
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During the late 1930's and early 1940's, Dare County was served by a small privately owned airport at Skyco on Roanoke Island. On March 1st, 1940, the Dare County Board of Commissioners appointed a committee to acquire property and begin planning for the construction of a publicly owned airport.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States Navy considered a Naval Auxiliary Air Station on Cape Hatteras. However, since airport construction had already begun in Manteo, that was chosen as the new site.

On July 27, 1942, a mass flight of Civil Air Patrol aircraft left Charlotte, Asheville, Elkin and Winston Salem for Skyco Airport on Roanoke Island. The Civil Air Patrol operated Coastal Patrol Base 16 at Skyco until construction permitted them to use the new airport in the late fall of 1942. It was one of 21 Civil Air Patrol Coastal Patrol Bases formed to combat the German submarine menace on the east coast during the war.
The Manteo airport was opened as Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Manteo and officially commissioned on March 3, 1943. NAAS Manteo was used for operational training of squadrons flying F4F Wildcats, F6F Hellcats, SB2C Helldivers, TBM and TBF Avengers, and F4U Corsairs.

In early April 1943, a squadron of F4U Corsairs came to NAAS Manteo. This squadron commanded by Lieutenant Commander Tom Blackburn proved to be the most famous Navy squadron of their time, scoring 154 victories in 76 days. One of Dare County's own, Lt. Sheldon R. "Ray" Beacham of Kitty Hawk, was a pilot with VF17.. He was credited with their first victory.

CAP Base 16 was in operation from July 22, 1942 until August 31, 1943 when the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard took over the anti-submarine patrols and all Civil Air Patrol Coastal Patrol Bases were closed. The Navy continued operational training of many different squadrons until the station was placed on caretaker status on December 15, 1945.

In 1947, Dare County asked for the return of the airfield and their request was granted. Since then the facility has been operated by a Fix Base Operator (FBO) and later the Dare County Airport Authority, which took over the airport in 1983 and still oversees the airport's daily operations today.

Museum:

The Operations Room contains photos and documents of the pre-WW2 era, focused on Dave Driskill, local barnstormer, air service operator, pilot for the National Park Service, test pilot for Kellett Autogiro, and, after WW2, the first manager of the airport.

The main room contains many references specific to the history of the airport and its two main tenants during WW2.

On display are authentic uniforms, photographs, documents, and artifacts of the Civil Air Patrol Coastal Patrol Base 16 (CPB16) which operated here from July 1942 until August 1943. About 95% of the CAP personnel, men and women, were Tarheels.

Also on display are authentic uniforms, photographs, documents, and artifacts from the US Navy squadrons that received operational training at NAAS Manteo from March 1943 until the end of WW2. These include VF-17 and VF-50.

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